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What's in the news?

28th May 2008


There is only one employer vacancy for every five ConstructionSkills applicants, according to figures released today by ConstructionSkills.

Despite the increased focus on apprenticeships by industry bodies and the Government there is still a severe shortage in vacancies for young people entering the construction industry in England.

This has prompted ConstructionSkills, the one stop shop for skills and training in the construction industry, to launch a drive to get more employers to commit to skills and training. ConstructionSkills is appealing to employers to take on more apprentices with the aim of placing 7,500 apprentices across England in construction firms by the end of the year.

In England so far this year, over 12,000 candidates have applied to ConstructionSkills and thousands more are expected but to date only 2,400 vacancies have been offered by employers. With the housing market subdued and the increased difficulty of securing credit likely to affect construction, as with most other sectors, apprentices have an increasingly vital role to play in helping a business diversify their services and win new business. Now it’s down to industry to see that these thousands of willing and able candidates get the start they crave.

Max Hamps, Director of Apprentices for ConstructionSkills said:
“There are hundreds of thousands of construction firms in England but only a fraction of these are taking on apprentices. The small businesses that thrive from generation to generation are those that appreciate the value of training and bringing young people into the business from day one. Unfortunately many firms still think that taking on an apprentice is costly or time consuming, or that drop out rates are high. In fact with over 75% completion rates ConstructionSkills apprentices are among the best in the industry and we are committed to finding the right apprentice to suit each construction business.“

Geoff Lister, President of Federation of Master Builders said:
“We want to see more young people enter construction and for Britain to continue to be one of the world leaders in construction professionals. We are working with our members to dispel the myths surrounding taking on apprentices and also to support those that do. Only 4% of companies take on construction apprentices and this varies considerably across the country (7% North East to less than 1% in parts of London and South East). Last year we launched the Cross Industry Taskforce on Apprenticeship Numbers with the aim of doubling the number of construction apprentices over the next four years. We are determined to ensure our own members champion this drive.”

With 600 young people in England already placed through ConstructionSkills, more than at the same time in previous years, there is some cause for optimism, but thousands more places are required. In order to support this, ConstructionSkills introduced Programme Led Apprenticeships (PLAs) last year, a new complementary route to Traditional Apprenticeships. PLAs take young people who have are already on a full-time college based construction course and help them complete the practical aspects required to attain NVQ Level 2 through a continuous placement of up to 12 months with an employer. This represents a much shorter time commitment on-site for businesses than Traditional Apprenticeships which, combined with no further time off-site, better suits a lot of firms.

Companies that have previously employed apprentices are backing up the call to action, as they have seen the benefits first hand.

Steve Rodden, Managing Director of Rodden & Cooper Ltd in Lincolnshire, said:
“Although we are a small firm, we aim to take on apprentices whenever possible. Apprentices are a great way of strengthening your workforce, and adding value to the business. We are also a firm who believes very strongly in investing in the future careers of young people. We are proud to be one of the companies doing something really positive within the local community and at the same time making a good contribution to the construction industry generally.”

Last year ConstructionSkills placed approximately 6, 000 apprentices in England through its Apprenticeship Division – all of whom have been pre-screened to establish that they are of a good standard.To help the employer and the apprentice through the apprenticeship, ConstructionSkills offers ongoing mentoring and support from an Apprenticeship Officer as well as ConstructionSkills Grant of up to £9,400 over three years for traditional apprenticeships, to support training.

For more information, please visit or contact your local ConstructionSkills office

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